Thousands of kids enter foster care every year and many of them rely on volunteers to advocate on their behalf.
They enter the court system because of abuse and neglect and find themselves in need of a court appointed special advocate (CASA).
"Based on the detriment associated with the case the judge will determine if a CASA needs to be appointed to that child and often times, based on the nature of it, they will be,” said Lolita Gilmore, recruiter and trainer for CASA of Bell and Coryell Counties.
CASAs are volunteers that act as the eyes and ears of the court, but their ultimate goal is to make sure that the child has someone in their corner fighting on their behalf.
”We go in and we talk to the families," said Gilmore. "We talk to the child, we’re the voice for the child, because can you imagine a 6-year old or a 5-year old trying to defend their position on where they want to be or who they want to be with?”
Unlike other similar jobs, CASAs are volunteers and normally only work on one or two cases at a time. With over a thousand kids in need of a CASA, and only 100 advocates in our area, there just aren't enough volunteers like Colvin to go around.
”We have a need for them," said Colvin. "Men are welcome [as well], we need men advocates most definitely.”
There is more of a shortage when in comes to male advocates, but male or female, advocates are welcome ... as the need is dire.
Current advocates see the benefit of volunteering for the children and themselves.
”Not only are you being a voice for these kids, you’re helping them fight their dragons that they’re having to deal with ... and it’s very rewarding,” said Colvin.
At the end of the day, it’s the goal of these court appointed special advocates to bring families back together.
”Our position is not like CPS," said Gilmore. "They determine the child removals and things of that nature. Our position here, is to focus on family reunification.”
Anyone interested in becoming a court appointed special advocate can reach out to CASA of Bell and Coryell counties.